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Tony Blair builds a £35million property empire where his children have homes worth £12million

With its rusting tin roof and rotten wooden walls, the dilapidated structure has been used as a garage, workshop and storeroom.

But today, more than ever, one man’s shed is another’s potential goldmine.

And so it is that over the past 16 months the owners of this crumbling pile have submitted a series of planning applications aimed at turning it into a three bedroom house worth around £500,000.

To be constructed from powder-coated aluminium and moulded glass, and with the roof raised to allow space for a mezzanine floor, it would be surrounded by a boardwalk providing unspoilt views over the rolling Buckinghamshire countryside.

Leo Blair,18, co-owns this house in Buckinghamshire which comes with a barn the council won't let be developed

£800k: Leo Blair (right), 18, was welcomed into the ‘family firm’ and made the co-owner of an £800,000 house close to the Blairs’ country seat. It is in the grounds of this house that the controversial barn, which the council won’t let be developed,  sits

After leaving 10 Downing Street, the Blair's have built a  property portfolio consisting of 39 homes and flats whose worth is put at £35 million

After leaving 10 Downing Street, the Blair’s have built a property portfolio consisting of 39 homes and flats whose worth is put at £35 million

£265k: Tony Blair's eldest son Euan, 35, and Cherie's firm own four flats in the Whalley Range area of Manchester

£265k: Tony Blair’s eldest son Euan, 35, and Cherie’s firm own four flats in the Whalley Range area of Manchester

£8.5m: Also included in Tony and Cherie Blair's property empire is their home in London's posh Connaught Square. This is the property the Blair's first moved to after leaving Downing Street in 2007

£8.5m: Also included in Tony and Cherie Blair’s property empire is their home in London’s posh Connaught Square. This is the property the Blair’s first moved to after leaving Downing Street in 2007

£650k: Also included in the family's property portfolio are their ten flats in Urmston, Greater Manchester

£650k: Also included in the family’s property portfolio are their ten flats in Urmston, Greater Manchester

£2.75m: Last year Tony Blair's 33-year-old son Nicky splashed out £2.75million on a plush new property in London

£2.75m: Last year Tony Blair’s 33-year-old son Nicky splashed out £2.75million on a plush new property in London

£10m: Tony Blair's country pile in Wotton Underwood, Buckinghamshire, was once the home of actor Sir John Gielgud

£10m: Tony Blair’s country pile in Wotton Underwood, Buckinghamshire, was once the home of actor Sir John Gielgud

‘The easy visual relationship that the existing building has with its environment would not be spoiled,’ it was claimed in plans submitted to the council.

All well and good in principle. But what about the ‘relationship’ with the well-heeled neighbours? As it turns out they were far from happy with the proposals, claiming the development would be a ‘blight’ on the landscape.

It was also pointed out that when the shed and adjoining house were bought in 2013, it was with the proviso that the outbuilding could not be converted.

Indeed, the owners were accused of ‘wasting everyone’s time’ and ‘causing potential irreparable upset’ by persisting with their application. 

The local council agreed, twice refusing permission and branding the proposals ‘unsustainable, ‘incongruous’ and ‘inappropriate’.

Strong words — particularly when directed at a former Prime Minister, known for his knack of getting what he wants.

Because, as the Daily Mail today reveals, the owners of the controversial shed (or ‘barn’ as they call it) are none other than Tony Blair and his property-rich family.

For those who have followed the fortunes of the Blairs since their departure from 10 Downing Street, their involvement in such a wrangle may come as little surprise.

For the last decade they have built up an extraordinary property portfolio consisting of 39 homes and flats whose worth is put at £35million. 

Their investments — some bought with mortgages and some without — span everything from student digs in Manchester to Tony and Cherie’s principal homes in London and Buckinghamshire, worth more than £20million alone.

Not to be outdone, their children have been busy reaching ever more rarefied heights on the property ladder.

£225k: Also among the list of properties owned by the Blair's are three of Cherie and eldest son Euan's Stockport flats

£225k: Also among the list of properties owned by the Blair’s are three of Cherie and eldest son Euan’s Stockport flats

£1.4m: This period terrace in London belongs to daughter Kathryn Blair, 30, and was purchased in 2015. It is worth some £1.4million

£1.4m: This period terrace in London belongs to daughter Kathryn Blair, 30, and was purchased in 2015. It is worth some £1.4million

£4.6m: Eldest son Euan Blair, 35, today, lives in a plush townhouse estimated to be worth a staggering £4.6 million

£4.6m: Eldest son Euan Blair, 35, today, lives in a plush townhouse estimated to be worth a staggering £4.6 million

£1.3m: Oldbury Residential Ltd also forked out for 14 more Stockport flats to add to the growing number of properties on the list

£1.3m: Oldbury Residential Ltd also forked out for 14 more Stockport flats to add to the growing number of properties on the list

£2.4m: After buying her first property in 2015, Kathryn Blair bought a second house for £2.4 million. It is currently undergoing renovations

£2.4m: After buying her first property in 2015, Kathryn Blair bought a second house for £2.4 million. It is currently undergoing renovations

While eldest son Euan, 35 today, lives in a townhouse estimated to be worth £4.6million, last year his 33-year-old brother Nicky splashed out £2.75million on a new London property.

Meanwhile sister Kathryn, 30, owns two London houses. The first, worth some £1.4million, was bought in 2015.

Then, 12 months ago, she bought a second house for £2.4million. It is undergoing renovations which, as we shall see, have also upset her neighbours.

All of which leaves Leo, the Blair’s fourth and youngest child. 

He turned 18 last May but, we can reveal, had barely blown out his candles when he was welcomed into the ‘family firm’, being made the co-owner of an £800,000 house close to the Blairs’ country seat.

It is in the grounds of this house that the controversial barn sits. Had it been granted planning permission, it would have become the 40th property in the family’s portfolio. 

Instead, it remains a shed in a state of disrepair — a description that could be applied to the Blairs’ relationship with villagers.

‘It’s fair to say there was a fair degree of opposition,’ one local said of the matter earlier this week. ‘It is all rather awkward.’ 

When the Blairs left Downing Street in 2007 they first moved into a five-storey Grade II-listed Georgian townhouse in London’s uber-posh Connaught Square.

A stone’s throw from Hyde Park, the property was bought for £3.65million while Mr Blair was in office. At the time they feared they would struggle to afford it.

In her memoirs, Cherie wrote that they had taken out a mortgage ‘the size of Mount Snowdon’. The payments initially fell on her shoulders — ‘it was very scary’ — which she covered through her work as a QC and with lucrative speaking engagements in America. 

But as Mr Blair’s post-Downing Street career took off, the money poured in.

His earnings since quitting are conservatively estimated at £20million, money used to invest in property which, in turn, has itself increased in value by more than £10million. 

According to property website Zoopla, the Blairs’ main London property is now worth around £8.5million. 

Linked to it is a mews house, bought for security reasons on advice from MI5 in 2007, with a purchase price of £800,000. That is now worth £1.7million.

Not long afterwards, the Blairs treated themselves to a country retreat: a Grade I-listed mansion near Aylesbury, Bucks. 

The former home of actor Sir John Gielgud, it was bought in 2008 for £5.75million but is now valued at £10million.

Among the Blairs’ neighbours is David Gladstone. A descendant of Victorian Prime Minister William Gladstone, he lives in an early 18th-century stately home for which the Blairs’ property once served as coach house. 

Its grounds and gardens, designed in part by Capability Brown, are designated Grade I by Historic England.

In 2013 the Gladstone family sold the Blairs a £600,000 property nearby. Nestling on the edge of a wood, the four-bedroom house was extensively renovated.

Land Registry documents show it was bought without a mortgage and initially owned jointly by Cherie and Mr Blair’s younger sister, Sarah. 

But in the year of its purchase, Kathryn’s name was swapped onto the deeds in place of her aunt. Soon after the property, now worth £800,000, was advertised to rent for £2,500 a month.

With the house came a parcel of land including a pond and the barn. At 21 by five metres, it has wooden sides and a rounded, corrugated iron roof.

In September 2017 an application was submitted to Aylesbury Vale District Council for permission to convert the barn from agricultural to residential use.

The application was submitted in the name of ‘Mr A Hubble’. 

It is understood this refers to Andrew Hubble, who is said to work for the Blairs and to live in a property owned by them. ‘They (the Blairs) do everything in someone else’s name,’ said a well-placed source. 

‘It is purely because they (the Hubbles) work for the Blairs and tend to do most of the stuff because they live in the village full time.’

The application included plans for how the barn could be converted into a three-bedroom house, enlarging it and raising the roof and extensively re-building it.

The plans did not go down well in the village. 

Among those to contact the council to object was Mr Gladstone. He wrote: ‘The site was sold to Mrs Blair in 2013 with a strict prohibition on change of use because of the importance of the landscape. The barn is very obviously visible from large tracts of the landscape and any development would be a blight.’

Another resident, Christian Sacher, wrote: ‘The existing barn is little more than a shed. The idea that this is a conversion of a substantial existing building does not bear scrutiny.’

In December 2017 the application was refused by the council, which described it as an ‘incongruous and inappropriate form of development’. 

Unperturbed, in April 2018 another application was submitted to convert the barn into a three-bedroom dwelling. Again residents objected.

‘I am somewhat exasperated to have to go through due process of objecting in the strongest terms AGAIN less than four months after the previous application was rejected,’ wrote Mr Gladstone.

‘The proposed development has been ruled…to be detrimental and causing significant harm to my unique Historic Park of national and international importance.

‘The small design changes proffered do not address any of the objections and reasons for refusal.

‘It is regrettable that despite the clearly expressed views of the illustrious statutory consultees…in rejecting the previous application, that the Blair family hiding behind the applicant persist in wasting everyone’s time and causing potential irreparable upset.’

In August the council again turned down the application.

What plans the Blairs have for the barn now are unclear. Contacted to discuss the matter, the Daily Mail received no response from Mrs Blair or her husband.

But Land Registry records show that, as of the end of May, the co-owners of the house and land are now Leo and Kathryn Blair.

Leo celebrated his 18th birthday earlier that month. Of course, if he intends to further follow in the property-owning footsteps of his older siblings, then he may have to prepare himself for similar planning battles in years to come.

Kathryn, a barrister, recently found herself locking horns with her neighbours after applying for permission to renovate her newest home — a £2.4million five-bedroom townhouse in West London.

She bought the property in December 2017, despite already owning a £1.4million townhouse half a mile away.

A planning application was submitted to erect a full width single-storey rear ground extension, but hurriedly withdrawn following a host of complaints, principally about a gas meter box which Ms Blair wanted moved outside. Another submission a month later was met with further objections.

One public comment on the Westminster Council website said her proposed solar panels were out of keeping with the conservation area the house lies within.

Despite the objections, planning permission was finally granted last month.

Kathryn’s other brother Nicky, who has worked as a football agent, has also recently moved house.

In 2012 he and mum Cherie bought a four-storey Georgian townhouse in London for £1.35million. It underwent major remodelling and was subsequently transferred into his sole ownership.

In May of last year, it sold for £1.735 million, after which he and his wife Alexandra spent £2.75million on a Victorian villa in North London.

But of all the siblings, it is Euan who has been the most active in the property market, acting in conjunction with his mother.

Her name is listed alongside his as the joint owner of the home he lives in with his wife. It was bought for £3.625million in 2013 and is now worth a million more.

Together with Cherie he is a director of Oldbury Residential Limited, the company they set up to buy and rent out properties.

It owns a total of 31 flats and houses in the North of England. These include ten flats bought in Urmston, Manchester, for £650,000 in 2014, 14 flats in Stockport bought in the same year for £1.3million, three more Stockport flats bought in 2015 for £225,000 and four flats bought in Manchester’s Whalley Range in 2016 for £265,000.

Last year, the company reported £200,000 in profits for each of the past two years.

To that background it can only be a matter of time before the family Blair expands their property portfolio further.

Doubtless their neighbours in the Buckinghamshire countryside will be hoping that does not include a converted shed.

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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